Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the approval of the SOGIESC equality bill by the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality

Statement of the Commission on Human Rights welcoming the approval of the SOGIESC equality bill by the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality

The Commission on Human Rights (CHR) welcomes the approval of the newly-revised Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity, Gender Expression, or Sex Characteristics (SOGIESC) Equality Bill by the House Committee on Women and Gender Equality. The revised bill consolidated similar bills, namely House Bills No. 222, 460, 3418, 3702, 4277, 5551, 6003, and 7036, which all seek to prohibit all forms of discrimination on the basis of SOGIESC.

Despite numerous past setbacks, we hope that this development is the start of the unimpeded progress of the bill toward its eventual passage into law. Through its enactment, the legislative branch can demonstrate their commitment in safeguarding the fundamental rights of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, and Intersex (LGBTQI) community and reject all forms of discrimination against them.

CHR continues to assert the need to acknowledge the struggle—from seemingly small microaggressions to large-scale acts of abuse, harassment, and violence—that people in the LGBTQI community face daily. The vulnerability to any and many forms of discrimination is more pronounced for sectors living without a specific legislation that protect them against it.

In observance of the Pride Month, we hope to see concrete and serious strides in advancing the plight of the LGBTQI sector through the swift progress of the equality bill. In line with the State’s duty to continuously uphold the life and dignity of its people, particularly the marginalised ones, it is crucial that both chambers of Congress see the bill to its fruition.

A crucial facet of democracy is to recognise and celebrate the diversity of all individuals. The existence of a SOGIESC equality law is necessary in genuinely upholding equality in our society. For as long a segment of the population continues to face discrimination, creating a safe and enabling environment for all cannot be genuinely attained. The Commission urges the members of both the Senate and the House of Representatives to approach the bill with an open mind, seek to recognise its importance, and prompt for its continued deliberation. The CHR also remains open and willing to work with our lawmakers on how to better address issues on the bill.

Considering the 23-year pending state of the SOGIESC equality bill, the Commission underscores that its legislation is urgently needed and long overdue. Given its adherence to our national and international obligations, as well as standards of human rights, such as those prescribed in the 1987 Constitution, Republic Act No. 11313 or the Safe Spaces Act, and the Yogyakarta Principles, the passage of a SOGIESC Equality Act will give better meaning to the guarantees of equality and non-discrimination under these standards and statutes. This bill should be viewed by our legislators from the lens of the State’s obligation to be unwavering in pushing for genuine equality in rights and dignity in our society—a context where an individual can be their best selves without their SOGIESC being used against their growth and development. ###